Time to Consider Friends With Benefits and Forget Long Term Relationships (With Running Shoes)

One of my favorite questions to ask a runner is what shoe they run in and why. The first answer is usually pretty easy for them to come up with and the second response is usually pretty typical. I usually find it to be one of the following: “I’ve always run in (insert shoe)”, “My friend runs in this shoe.”, “I’ve heard that (insert company) makes a good running shoe.”, or several other responses. All of these responses are nauseating to me and come with a mental eye roll. These are absolutely terrible responses if that is their only reason for choosing a shoe.

Remember your first relationship? There are a lot of good reasons why it didn’t last and why the person you are with now is a heck of a lot better. You’re smarter now, you’ve gotten experience, you’ve learned, and you know what you want. (To those who married high school sweethearts, erm, Congrats!:)) To run in the exact same running shoe simply because you always have is asinine, especially if you have no idea why you bought that shoe in the first place. Not to mention a wide variety of shoe models and companies pop up every year, pushing the envelope of technology and function. If you’ve run in the same shoe for 20 years, you’re missing out on countless opportunities.

When purchasing anything in life, some questions should come to mind. Some purchases require more thought than others such as a car, house, TV, and of course running shoes. Running shoes are a medical investment and preventative care. A running shoe is going to affect every aspect of your training, gait, posture, and a myriad of other things. You NEED to be informed about the features and specs of your running shoes.

So what should you be asking your local running shoe store employee when you go in?

  • Why did you pick this shoe for me?
  • How will this shoe help to make me a better runner?
  • How will this shoe affect my biomechanics?
  • What is the heel toe offset of this shoe?
  • How does the toe box width compare to other shoes?
  • Where is the research to support the claims this shoe company makes?
  • Do you have an agenda or requirement to encourage one shoe versus another?
  • How can this shoe help to make me faster?
  • How can this shoe help my efficiency?
  • How will this shoe help to prevent (or cause) injuries.

This is just a short list to get you started. Going in and buying running shoes with little to no knowledge is running Russian roulette. It can end very badly. Get over your love affair and long term relationship with your current shoe or shoe brand. Make the store employee earn their paycheck and ask to try on a wide variety of shoes each and every time. Be polygamous! Run in several different brands and models during your training. Each will stress the foot in different ways and can be good strength training. Develop a few shoes with benefits relationships and don’t be afraid to cheat on them. After all, they are only running shoes and do not have emotions or feelings…yet.

The Child Custody Battle

I’m in the midst of an ugly child custody battle as we speak. Luckily there are no lawyers involved and both sides are being somewhat reasonable. Ironically enough, you, yes you reading this, are in a child custody battle of your own. The custody battle for your inner child.

When we first start out as little fledglings we are full of dreams, hope, passion, and vigor. There are very few bounds and the possibilities are limitless. However, slowly but surely, the “real world” makes an effort to beat it out of us until we become a compliant drone. There are endless rules that don’t really make all that much sense when you step back and look at it all. “Wear this, do that, listen to that person, you have to get this type of job, work for the man, work isn’t supposed to be fun” … the list goes on. Somehow we have been convinced that life should not be enjoyable for at least 40 hours a week, that all posted rules must be followed, the way things are should just be accepted, and that we should be saving ourselves for retirement. We delay fulfilling gratification and convince ourselves that we need to consume the latest and greatest gadgets. So the vicious cycle continues…

Life doesn’t really, or shouldn’t really, work this way. Nothing is guaranteed with the exception of the very moment you are currently in. Even if only for several minutes a day, you should seek to release that inner child and do what you truly want to. Running is a great way to do so as it is such a rudimentary form of play and relaxation. While running there are no bosses, silly suits, or reports to be created. There is you, the trail, and being the best version of yourself.

The lyrics to the latest Avicii song “Wake Me Up” capture the sentiment rather well. “Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart. I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start. They tell me I’m too young to understand. They say I’m caught up in a dream. Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes. Well that’s fine by me.” I live in a world where decisions are not made based on money, but passion. A world where silly jargon and outfits used to show intelligence and rank are laughed at. The world where “life is a game for everyone, and love is the prize”. If I am just living in a dream, certainly don’t wake me up. I’ll always win the battle for the inner child because it is a fight worth fighting.


I’ve Never Used Cocaine, I’ve Never Given Birth

“I’ve never used cocaine, I’ve never given birth but these experiences I think are like that. Where everyday is like the day you experience the birth of your first child and then your child dies in your hands. Every day is so vivid and so colorful and so emotional. To live in those experiences is a powerful thing, it’s an addiction.” – Charlie Wittmack

I am often questioned why I choose to enter extreme endurance events such as the marathon, Ironman, ultra marathons, and more. People want to know the mentality behind the madness and where it comes from. It is an inner drive I have had in me since going to college. I am an addict. I am intensely addicted to the rush and adrenaline that comes with pushing the limits of the human body. For those within the sport, they understand the bliss and truth that are attained through these feats.

It is both an addiction and a fear. I have a fear of living a life that I might deem mediocre and uninteresting. The perfect way to combat this fear for me is to enter into these events that allow me to experience the whole range of human emotion and all the world has to offer. For me, life becomes so vivid and so beautiful when I am in these events and when I am outside of the comfort zone. As Krakauer once said “The core of man’s spirit comes from new experience.”

The next level of my addiction will be my first Ultra Marathon, The Leona Divide 50 Miler in Lake Hughes, California on April 27th. I am anxious to see what the race will teach me about myself and to enjoy the beauty of my beloved California.



As with all my events, this one will only be another beginning. Greater goals await in the distance. It is my goal to one day complete the World Triathlon that is shown in the video of the week. Swim 275 Miles (Including crossing the English Channel). Bike 9000 miles. Run 950 Miles (Including scaling Mt. Everest). If history has anything to say about it, I won’t stop there. Why would I? Life is for the living. 

The World Triathlon Course

The World Triathlon Course

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Feel Again – One Republic

Quote – “I’ve never used cocaine, I’ve never given birth but these experiences I think are like that. Where everyday is like the day you experience the birth of your first child and then your child dies in your hands. Every day is so vivid and so colorful and so emotional. To live in those experiences is a powerful thing, it’s an addiction.” – Charlie Wittmack

Video – [youtube=””]

Kill Your Heroes

Most every person reading this has some type of hero that they look up to; someone that they are in some way striving to become or attempting to emulate. Heroes can serve to give us hope and teach us to hold on just a few moments longer. A hero sets an example for others to live by, grounded firmly in sound morals and values. At times, heroes transcend humanity and become almost godlike.


The moment a hero becomes godlike is the moment I disdain the hero motif. I stand in a different corner when it comes to heroes. I see heroes as a tool but also as a limitation. Too often heroes are put on a pedestal as someone who is super human and capable of things that nobody else is. As soon as you buy into this notion of the godlike hero, you have set your own limitations of how far you can go. Heroes are just as human as you and I. Heroes will fall and it now happens far more often than we would like in today’s information age. Take a look at Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, the list goes on and always will.

Heroes are imperfect. You must never believe that it is impossible to surpass your hero in at least some way. Perhaps it’s being better at your job, or as a parent, or at a certain race distance, or any other countless measures. With each and every person you meet, you are better than them in some way and they are better than you in some way. You should seek to learn from them, as they should seek to learn from you. Push each other to evolve, the most basic aspect of human nature.

You must evolve to become the hero of your own life. You must figuratively kill your heroes in your mind and realize that you can be better than them in many ways. You need to quit playing the role of victim hoping to be saved and take control of your own life. As our song of the week puts it: “Never let your fear decide your fate. I say you kill your heroes and fly, fly baby.” The way I see it from where I am sitting: Game On World, Game On.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Kill Your Heroes – AWOLNATION

Quote – “We need a hero. Courageous, sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for ’em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer. I believe there is a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most.”

Video – [youtube=””]

Never Too Late To Begin

Growing up I played just about every sport that was offered: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Track, Indoor Track, Cross Country, Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, and probably even a few more that I am forgetting. While the sports may have rotated in and out as my passions changed, there was always one constant. This constant would sit in the bleachers or stand along the course through the heat, humidity, cold, snow, rain, wind, and whatever else nature threw her way. She enjoyed and cherished every minute of these events and never missed a single one, despite having three kids and a job as a nurse. She is the forever faithful fan, she is my mom.

The Forever Faithful Fan

My mother and I have had a unique relationship over the years as we tend to challenge each other on ideas and philosophies and oftentimes disagree. I am strong willed and strong minded, quick to form beliefs that I believe define me. She on the other hand takes a more cautious route, evaluating all sides of the issue before jumping to any conclusions. Even after she has come to her own conclusion, she keeps an open mind to other’s opinions and thoughts. While her cautiousness in these situations proves to be a blessing, I believe her use of it in other aspects of her life can hold her back. Over the years, I have called her out on it and it seems there has now been a breakthrough.

My mom recently retired this past November and has come into her own. A new version of her has emerged that I had only seen flashes of before. I call it “the kid”. The kid in my mom comes out when she is in a state of complete happiness and a beautiful smile comes across her face as pictured below. I used to only see it when she went on trips or other rare occurrences, but it now defines who she is. My mother is coming into her own. She now takes every chance that comes her way and fully embraces life. Since retirement, she has been away from home more than she has been at home. She has taken trips to Egypt, NYC, California, Delaware, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, and many more. She has also sought out new hobbies and passions and there is one in particular that I could not be more excited about.

“The Kid Smile”

I can now proudly say that my mother is runner. I had always pestered her about the idea in the past but she was always worried about looking funny, awkward, weird, or any other number of excuses. Over the past few weeks she has set aside her doubts and has laced up her Newton Lady Isaacs to become a runner. The roles have reversed and I now know the pride that swells in a parent when watching their child do something they love. I am beyond proud of her for having the courage to take up a new sport at the age of 54, having never done it before.  I’m also excited to share a run with her, most likely at our favorite place, North Park. The Park will always be her and my special spot and and I imagine us circling the lake at a nice conversation pace. It appears its time to trade places and for me to be the forever faithful fan now, cheering her on to the beautiful victories running bestows upon us each day. Just remember, it’s never too late to get started.

Mom and Dad Forever Young at Heart

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack, a.k.a JH

Song – Rod Stewart – Forever Young

Quote – “As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

Video –


The Play After the Play

Me at a young age on the pitcher’s mound.

I was born an Iowa child not far from the Field of Dreams. Being an Iowa child, baseball is a way of life and stitched into the fabric of who you are at birth. I played the beautiful game for 14 wonderful years. To this day it is the only sport I have competed in longer than running, though running will be passing it by next year. I learned many of life’s early lessons from baseball, many of which I still carry with me today. Baseball holds my fondest memories of growing up, most of them thanks to the greatest Little League coach one could fathom, Coach Winklevoss.

Had he been my coach all through my baseball years, I have no doubt I would still be playing the game today. He inspired in me a love for the game. He also knew exactly how to handle the young, impressionable minds he was charged with helping raise. He instilled values in us and taught us life lessons that I will forever carry with me. There is one lesson that sticks with me more than any other, I call it the play after the play.

Little Leaguers are very prone to making mistakes and errors as they learn the complex game of baseball. It can be easy for one to quickly get down on himself after an error. However, Coach Winklevoss never once allowed this to happen. After any error, he would always call out his simple phrase “Hey now! Play after the Play!”. The meaning behind this phrase is nothing new or groundbreaking, but the magic was that it was worded in such a way that an 8-year-old was capable of understanding and applying it.

It was the simple adage that what matters is not the situation you are in or how you got there, but how you act afterwards, for that is the only thing you have control over. If we made an error, it didn’t matter, the play that followed mattered far more. With this coaching style, I can’t recall a single time where I ever really got down on myself or lacked confidence thanks to Coach Winklevoss. As it applies to baseball, it applies to both running and life. Should you start a race too fast, slow down, recover, and regroup. Any mistake you make can be dealt with rationally and intelligently. With any negative event in life, how you respond is infinitely more important than whatever you did to get there. Your next chapter always starts at this very instant in time that is “now”, how you choose to write it, is all up to you.

Thank you Coach Winklevoss for being such an amazing coach and giving us some of the greatest childhood memories we could ever imagine.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Smash Mouth – All Star

Quote – “You possess a unique combination of gifts, some already realized and some as yet untapped. Rewriting your life simply means reassessing your strengths and preferences, and putting them to work for you in a new and fulfilling way.” – Maud Purcell

Video – [youtube=””]

Infectious Enthusiasm

Every once in a while we are so lucky as to have someone come into our life who sparks our enthusiasm for our passion. They foster and grow the flame into a burning desire. This is the story of one of the men who inspired the passion of running in me. To this day, I can still remember his near perfect stride lapping the track as his blonde hair flew back as he hit the backstretch of our high school track. As our track team would descend the stadium steps down to the surface of the track for afternoon practice, we would see him completing his own workout before practice. We could immediately see the pure joy on his face. As soon as he stepped onto that track, the man lit up. Simply circling that track brought to his face the most genuine of smiles, he was in his element. His name was Coach Gar.

Home of the Seneca Valley Raider Track & Field Team (

Coach Gar was coming off of his Master’s from Slippery Rock University and had returned to his high school Alma Mater, Seneca Valley Senior High School to be an assistant track coach. One does not become an assistant track coach for a lavish salary or great benefits, they take the position because they have an absolute passion for the sport and love every little thing about it. When I first met him, I was a slacker and had the “goal” of running as a social activity and hoped to get a “pity letter” for my letterman’s jacket. Goofing off in the woods during long runs was far more appealing to me than logging quality miles. These were not exactly ambitious goals to say the least, however, this changed drastically upon meeting Coach Gar my Sophomore year of High School.

Coach Gar was unique because he was capable of producing something that very few people in this world can, infectious enthusiasm. Many are capable of becoming passionate about a sport, but to have the ability to inspire others takes a special person.  Everything Coach Gar did was with unbridled enthusiasm. He is one of those people that truly lives life. From an outsider’s point of view he may at times seem a bit over the top, but this is the way life should be lived and one of the many reasons his athletes loved him so much. He would sprint all over the track for us during both meets and practices, encouraging us every step of the way, screaming at the top of his lungs. His favorite phrase was “LETS GOOOOOOO!”, one he would often yell after sprinting ahead of us during workouts he would run with us. You couldn’t help but get a big smile on your face when you saw him. Through his infectious enthusiasm he molded the happiest runners and hardest workers.

Nothing makes Coach Gar happier than to see his athletes succeed.

I urge you to seek out that which inspires infectious enthusiasm in you whether it be running, cycling, gymnastics, calculus, or any other myriad of activities. There is nothing in your life that will make you happier than following that passion and enthusiasm. Once you find it, seek out the sages, those like Coach Gar, who will serve to foster and grow that enthusiasm in you. Do not waste your time on those who deter you and those who do not understand your pursuit. As a coach now myself, I can only hope to inspire in my athletes what Coach Gar inspired in me. Thank you Coach Gar for spreading your infectious enthusiasm to our team and for helping me to realize the greatest gift I have been given in my life, running. You have helped to shape my path and life more than you will ever know.

Coach Gar in all his smiling glory.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Quote – “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” – Gordon Parks

Video – The Finish Line – The Jim Tracy Story

Personalized Training Plans, NAME YOUR OWN PRICE!

The first thing you need to know about these plans: NAME YOUR OWN PRICE!

We know that there are a lot of cookie cutter plans out there available from a variety of websites. These training plans can be great starting points, however, they are not catered to the individual.

At The Motivated Runner LLC we take into account your schedule, history, goals, past injuries, and preferences before hand-crafting a plan for you. Our plans are based on principles from Jack Daniels, Arthur Lydiard, Danny Abshire, Hal Higdon, and our own personal experience over the course of 13 years.

No two plans will ever be alike and we will also be checking up on you occasionally to see how things are going. Each plan comes with an email Q&A session to clear up any questions you may have. We want to make sure you know exactly what to do with your plan and how to execute it so you can achieve your goals!

What You Get:

  • Personalized Training Plan

  • Workout Descriptions

  • Specially Catered Motivation

  • Initial Email Q&A about Plan

  • Race strategy for “A” race

Race Distances

  • General Fitness Plans

  • 800M

  • 1 Mile

  • 2 Mile

  • Couch to 5K

  • 5K

  • 5 Mile

  • 10K

  • 15K

  • 10 Mile

  • Half Marathon

  • Marathon

Pricing Structure

  • These plans are NAME YOUR OWN PRICE. Based on what you have read, fill out the form below with what you are looking to pay, how long your training plan needs to be (up to 24 weeks), and what race you are training for. Whether or not we accept will be based on our current business demand. We will either respond with a yes or a modified price.

    Sounds Good, Right? So Why Wait? Fill Out the Form Below!

    [contact-form subject=’A New Training Plan!’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’/][contact-field label=’Plan Length%26#x002c; Proposed Price%26#x002c; Race Distance’ type=’textarea’/][/contact-form]

You can expect to hear back within 24 hours:)


Online Coaching

Online Coaching is perfect for those who don’t live in the Southern California area. This option provides athletes with all the perks of Local Coaching, just without the in-person visits. Athletes will still receive a highly customized and tailor made training plan that plays to their strengths, history, schedule, goals, and motivation.

Online Coaching plans provide athletes unlimited contact with the coach via Text/Email and occasional contact via Phone/FaceTime/Skype. Other coaching companies limit the ways and number of times athletes are allowed to contact the coach. The way we see it, life changes each and everyday as does your status as a runner. We want to make sure our tailor made plan is still fitting your status. We make changes on the go for life circumstances, injuries, and anything else that may get in the way. It’s just one more way we are improving our service to you. We also make sure that you are always motivated and know how to get you in the right mindset to become the best runner you can be. We’ll be sending you little videos, quotes, songs, and other motivational bits along the way to put a smile on your face and bolster your determination.

What You Get:

  • Customized Training Plan for all Race Distances and Goals

  • Unlimited Text/Email

  • Occasional Phone/FaceTime/Skype

  • The Extra Mile Service

Location Available:

  • Anywhere

The Pricing Structure:

  • 1 Month – $150

  • 3 Months – $410

  • 6 Months – $790

  • 12 Months – $1540

Sounds Good, Right? So Why Wait?

Join The Motivated Runner Family Now and Get Started Here!

The Man Maker

This is going to be the first post in a 4-part series on several of the various types of coaches that come into our lives and the lessons they are charged with teaching us.

He walked into the packed classroom on the third floor of the Willard building on a crisp Autumn night. He donned a well-worn Detroit Tigers hat, a gristly beard, and a weathered crew jacket. It was easy to tell that this man had done this dance before and had seen it all. There was an aura about the man that captured the attention of all the athletes in the room in an instant. He was rugged, blunt, and to the point. He was everything an early twenty-something needed in a coach in order to become a man. I call him The Man Maker.

The Man Maker

The Man Maker is not there to give you the warm fuzzies and coddle you when things are bleak. The Man Maker is there to do just that, create men. When a boy is sent off to college he must find himself over the next 4 years in order to become a real man. He must learn to be self-sufficient, resilient, and thick-skinned. He must pave his own way and come to realize that if he wants anything in life he is going to have to go out and earn it just like everyone else. Coach Pete was my crew coach in my final semester at Penn State and taught me how to do all of this and more.

Coach Pete didn’t put up with anybody’s crap. It was very black and white with him. The workouts were what they were and you did them without any questions asked. The sport of crew is a precise endeavor which requires complete trust in the coach and in your teammates. There is nothing easy about any part of it once you get into that boat. You will feel tortuous pain throughout every workout and must learn to deal with it on your own. Coach Pete was not going to sit there and ask if you were feeling okay or anything along those lines. He was there to make sure you learned the sport and learned how to handle the pain. His instructions were simple: “sit-up more”, “stop looking at your oar”, “dig deep”, “explode with the legs”.

My favorite part about The Man Maker was that you had to earn his respect and even more so, earn a compliment from him. He doled out compliments very rarely, but when he did they carried an immense magnitude. These compliments would catch you by surprise and leave you on a high for the next couple days. They also served to further motivate you to your best so you could earn yet another compliment should you be so lucky. He also had a sledge hammer that was awarded every 2 weeks or so to the athlete who had worked the hardest. To win the sledge hammer was an immense honor and at that point you knew you had earned the Man’s respect.

I will be forever grateful to Coach Pete, The Man Maker and the rest of the team as well. Those six months did more to shape me into the man I am today than did all of the previous four years of college combined. I came to crew weak, shattered, and a shell of the man I could be. I left self-sufficient, resilient, and most importantly having learned what true hard work was. There is no way I could have ever attempted to make it through Ironman training had it not been for the daily 4am wakeup calls, 2-a-day workouts on the regular, and a phenomenal coach to teach me so much about both life and rowing. Thank you Coach Pete for being The Man Maker.

One of my most prized possessions.

Always in Stride,


Song – Plunkett- The River

Quote – “Reflect on your experiences and accomplishments. Remember the dedication, the pain, the jubilation, the camaraderie — your family. Remember the feel of the oar in your hand, the swing, the perfect catch, the pull, the drive and the run of the boat beneath you. But most importantly, never forget that the glory is not in you or any individual. Instead, remember that the glory is always in the team.” – Joe Blasko

Video – Best Sports Speech Ever from Any Given Sunday